Williams F1 team sold to private investment firm

F1

Sir Frank Williams has relinquished control of the Formula 1 team he founded 43 years ago, as Williams Grand Prix Engineering is sold to the private investment firm Dorilton Capital

Damon Hill crosses the finish line at the 1996 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka to claim the Formula 1 Drivers Wold Championship

More successful times: Damon Hill wins the 1996 championship with Williams at Suzuka

Paul-Henri Cahier/Getty Images

The Williams Racing team has been sold to a private investment firm, ending 43 years of control by Sir Frank Williams.

Dorilton Capital has taken over ownership of the team that has won seven drivers’ titles, nine constructors’ titles and 114 race victories.

The deal for Williams Grand Prix Engineering, which includes the F1 team, values the business at €152m (£133.5m) and secures its future in Formula 1 for the long term, according to Williams.

It comes days after Williams signed the new 2021 Concorde Agreement, keeping the team racing in Formula 1 through to 2025.

The new commercial rights contract raised the entry price for any prospective teams looking to join the series, raising the value of existing entries.

The new agreement also looks to increase the funds handed out to smaller teams on the grid, with less money now going to the top end of F1 with the aim of closing up the field.

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In a Motor Sport podcast earlier this year, the team’s co-founder, Patrick Head, said that the team was “struggling to stay alive” after slumping to last place in the championship for the past two seasons.

“You cannot run an F1 commercially finishing tenth out of ten consistently,” he said, blaming a lack of technical leadership for its recent performances.

Williams announced that it was considering a sale of the team in May. As part of a strategic review with financial advisors, it said that it had reviewed all options on the table for its future and selected the US firm to acquire the team and secure its long-term future.

After repayment of debts, Williams Grand Prix Holdings — the holding company for Williams Grand Prix Engineering — received €112m (£98.5m), to be divided between its shareholders, including Sir Frank Williams who has a 52 per cent stake.

In a statement on the takeover, deputy team principal Claire Williams said that the investment firm’s acquisition meant that Williams could now focus on restoring itself to competitiveness in F1 without fears over its future.

“The Strategic Review was a useful process to go through and proved that both Formula 1 and Williams have credibility and value.

“We have now reached a conclusion and we are delighted that Dorilton are the new owners of the team.

“When we started this process, we wanted to find a partner who shared the same passion and values, who recognised the team’s potential and who could unlock its power. In Dorilton we know we have found exactly that. People who understand the sport and what it takes to be successful. People who respect the team’s legacy and will do everything to ensure it succeeds in the future. As a family we have always put our team first.

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“Making the team successful again and protecting our people has been at the heart of this process from start. This may be the end of an era for Williams as a family owned team, but we know it is in good hands. The sale ensures the team’s survival but most importantly will provide a path to success.

“We are enormously grateful to Dorilton for the faith they have shown in our team and we look forward to working with them now. I would also like to thank the Williams Board and our advisers who have worked tirelessly over the past months to make this happen and our employees who have remained steadfastly loyal.”

Earlier this year, a majority share in the Advanced Engineering division of Williams was sold off as the team looked to raise funds to ensure it could continue on in F1.

The team also lost title sponsor ROKiT before the delayed season could get underway, with the ROKiT group reportedly the party that was responsible for the termination of the deal.

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